Kevin MacMillanNorth Lake Tahoe Bonanza

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April 19, 2012
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IVGID board opts to continue $200K per-year funding plan for defensible space

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Land within the Incline Village General Improvement District will continue to be protected from the threat of wildfire, although the next stages of maintaining the defensible halo that surrounds the community may take longer than was once anticipated.Last week, the IVGID board of trustees voted 5-0 to continue a long-standing fuels management partnership by allocating funds for the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District to protect IVGID lands. The fire district can use the remaining $40,000 in the fund for this year, and $200,000 for the coming 2012-13 year.The money will help with the fire district’s goal of keeping “catastrophic wildfire out of the Lake Tahoe Basin,” chief Mike Brown told trustees last week.To date, 850 acres of IVGID land have received initial treatment, according to the fire district, which will now use IVGID’s funding to help begin work on 408 acres of land that do not meet current standards for potential fire behavior and forest health.

The problem facing both IVGID and the fire district, however, is the work needed to finish the halo will cost approximately $1.45 million to complete over the next three years — a challenge that looms larger considering funds and grants that NLTFPD relies on to help are becoming less available.According to previous reports, IVGID has dedicated $200,000 the past three years for defensible space to NLTFPD under the expectation of a 2-to-1 match via various grants and funds.For example, so far in fiscal year 2011-12, NLTFPD has spent $480,000 on fuels management work on IVGID lands — with a cost share of $160,000 from IVGID and $320,000 of grant funds through the Nevada Fire Safe Council.This is where things get murky. According to previous reports, auditors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General’s Office recently discovered the Fire Safe Council did not properly account for some grant funds awarded by the U.S. Forest Service, and federal auditors are recommending that $2.7 million be returned.This investigation has frozen all grant monies with the council — including the grant match used by NLTFPD for fuels management on IVGID lands.According to ththeee long-term plan presented by the fire district at last week’s board meeting, work on the additional 408 acres of halo work will take three years. This plan is based on IVGID dedicating $600,000 ($200,000 each of the next three years), coupled with anticipated successful reinstatement of Nevada Fire Safe Council grant monies after 2012-13 — along with an already-guaranteed $200,000 grant for work next year.The IVGID board will need to revisit the matter each of the next two years and vote on whether to include $200,000 in the subsequent 2013-14 and 2014-15 budgets.If the work is completed according to this plan, IVGID anticipates its the annual funding level would be reduced as work after three years transitions to less-costly re-entry and reinforcement of the completed halo.

The halo has been getting stronger ever since the fuels management partnership between IVGID and NLTFPD began in 1991.“Today, the model of collaboration between IVGID and NLTFPD serves as an example for communities nationwide that seek to take an active role in preventing wildfires, protecting watersheds and restoring crucial ecosystem benefits,” Brown said in a letter to the IVGID board.Over the past 20 years, a combination of money from IVGID, NLTFPD and grants has been used for fuels management work, to the following degree:• IVGID — $2 million• Grants through NLTFPD — $1.8 million• NLTFPD Fuels Management Program Funding — $2.5 millionHowever, as economic woes have worsened in recent years, those grants are becoming harder to get, Brown has said in previous interviews, highlighted by money relied on each year through the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act — as land sales in hard-hit Southern Nevada continue to slow, competition for the funding from a variety of state agencies has increased.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Apr 19, 2012 01:20PM Published Apr 19, 2012 09:47AM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.